Sarah Kass founded Fabric, a geospatial web platform, for sporting events that transform in-person ... [+] events and experiences by delivering immersive real-time social, gaming, blockchain and augmented reality experiences. Courtesy of Fabric
The Experience Economy, the sale of memorable experiences to customers, is gaining traction. It's when a company intentionally uses its services as the stage, and the products as props, to engage individual customers in a way that creates memorable moments. How do companies keep up with the pace of ever-changing technology to meet the demands of consumers wanting an experience over materialistic items? Fabric, founded by Sarah Kass, is a geospatial web platform for sporting events that transform in-person events and experiences by delivering immersive real-time social, gaming, blockchain and augmented reality experiences. The company's technology allows users to look into the space around them instead of down at their phones, joining others where they are for real-time, location-specific experiences. Kass and her team have raised $4 million in funding, inclusive of a $1.9 million seed raise led by Sapir Venture Partners. Recently, the Fabric team was in Abu Dhabi for the NBA All-Star game. The genesis of Fabric came from Kass' observation of three paradoxes: humans are more interconnected and disconnected at the same time than ever before digitally, we have more access to resources than ever before, yet the wealth gap is significant, and smartphones give people power, but there's less engagement. 'I have the sense that the institutional infrastructure built for the pre-digital world was not serving people in the 21st century,' she explains. 'I decided something big was going on, and I was too small to think about it myself. So what I did was to convene lots of people. In this case, I convened 21 global organizations from the Aspen Institute, the World Bank, Teach for All, SOCOM, and a long list from finance to religion to entrepreneurship... When I came out of it, I realized that what I was really talking about was something that had been diagnosed by other people long before me... a frame of the social fabric.
So I began to frame the problem as ‘how do we grow the social fabric? What new infrastructure could propel the growth of social capital in the digital age? Or what new infrastructure would allow us to strengthen the social fabric in today's time when we're walking around with all these phones?''
Sarah Kass and Saul Garlick, cofounders of Fabric, speaking on geospatial web.Courtesy of Fabric After attending Yale, Kass became a Rhodes Scholar and studied at Oxford. She met venture capitalist Ed Cohen, who took the Scholars out for dinner. He planted the entrepreneurial seed for Kass and explained how she could change the world now versus waiting to go to medical or law school. In 1993, the Massachusetts legislature passed the School Reform Act, which established five charter schools, the first in the country. At this time, Kass taught at the inner-city Chicago school she graduated from years prior. She had moved to Boston, and she and another teacher applied to start a charter school. In 1995, their charter school opened.
After years of building out the charter school, raising money and handling the day-to-day operations, Kass transitioned to consulting. Other people and corporations wanting to start charters school brought her in to help strategy and launch the institutions. From there, a venture philanthropy fund recruited her to help activate its initiatives. She spent 12 years at two different funds before launching Fabric.
Initially, Kass started the company independently, pitching an idea without proof of concept to investors. She then brought on her cofounder, Saul Garlick, a serial entrepreneur. They both believe that Web3 offers breakthrough opportunities for empowerment and community.
'We're not going to get rid of these phones anytime soon,' Kass explains. 'We realized that the way to figure out what product we were trying to create was to think about how we could jiu-jitsu the phone into something that would actually get us off the phone. The way we used to talk about it then was how can we turn the phone from a wall, which disconnects us from each other when we're all together, into a window? That's where we got into augmented reality. AR is the unique technology that sits between our phones and the real world. And so we began to think how we could turn AR into a communication medium.'
During the pandemic, the team realized its technology could be a significant asset to the experience economy as the market is expected to reach $12 billion in 2023. However, as they looked into the sports vertical, it became clear it would be one of the most manageable barriers to entry.The Fabric team, Saul Garlick (CEO/Co-Founder), Julie Zwissler (CMO), Sarah Kass (Co-Founder), and ... [+] Shivansh Chaudhary (CTO), at an event.Courtesy of Fabric
'All these huge stadiums are going up, but what they don't have, what doesn't exist today, is a digital medium that creates shared in-person experiences,' Kass explains. 'We call the geospatial web, which is all about syncing place and time; you only see the content if you're there if you're looking through your phone... If you're at 42nd Street, and the content is placed at 72nd street, you won't see it... We see ourselves as that piece of infrastructure that is going to help anything in the real world become relevant as this sub-generation emerges.'
As Kass continues to evolve in her career, she focuses on the following essential steps: Don't wait for other people's approval to do what you want. Identify your core strengths and focus on them moving forward. Take the risk. Your younger self will thank you.
'One thing that is true about an entrepreneur, whether for-profit or non-profit, is the opportunity to invite capital to make that go forward,' Kass concludes. 'That's always part of the job; part of the joy is the opportunity to bring other people into this massive vision that we have.'